P.T. Barnum

Several years ago when I was in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza researching my book on women suicide bombers, ARMY OF ROSES, as well as filming a documentary on the same subject, the following question kept coming up.

“Are you for or against suicide bombings?”

On the surface it would have seemed to be a ridiculous question assuming, that is, that the question held no concealed agenda. After all, how could anyone be “for” suicide bombings that killed not only Israeli civilians but Palestinian youth as well?

As it turned out, the question was not so simple.

When a Palestinian asked the question, if one replied in favor of suicide bombings, it meant that the person was automatically in favor of a Palestinian State. To be “against” suicide bombings meant that the person asked was in favor of continued Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

It was a black and white question that demanded a black and white response. There was no gray area. Qualifying a negative response (to be against suicide bombings) by adding that while one was against either the suicide of Palestinian youth or the murder of Israeli civilians was not part of the equation. Nor was expressing the belief that killing under any circumstance is not acceptable even though one might believe that Israeli settlements should not be built on disputed Palestinian land, or that radical Palestinian military and political groups must recognize the State of Israel before there can be any comprehensive peace.

Any secondary condition or opinion that wavered from that black and white question was simply not relevant.

In the past few years since my book was published on women suicide bombers and the documentary was aired, suicide bombings have abated, at least in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Yet, the black and white aspect of that loaded question has morphed into another form.

Mitt Romney’s recent trip to Israel is a perfect example of that black and white mentality when it comes to people pleasing and taking sides in this long and painful Mid-East conflict.

Mitt met with high rollers on the Israeli right, as well as with an American Las Vegas magnate and, without equivocation or expressing certain pivotal conditions, stated on all sound bites and televised interviews that he was absolutely 100% for the State of Israel without any mention of some kind of conciliation that the Palestinian entity could and should survive. Not a word about the need for a two-state solution; not a word about ceasing to inflict Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza; not a mention of any historical rights of the Palestinian people; not a nod or a visit to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.

Zip. Zero. Nothing.

It has been said now after the fact that Mitt was only there to raise money for his campaign against President Obama. While that is clearly true, even more to the point, Mitt went to Israel to show his support for a country that is a pivotal part of any American Presidential election. Israel is the catalyst that, at the end of the day, either helps to put a candidate in the Oval Office, or exiles the loser to face defeat and debt.

It is not by accident that I am not differentiating between right-wing or left-wing Israeli administrations, or Palestinian administrations that either recognize Israel or state that they want the “Zionist Entity” wiped off the map, or between Republican or Democratic candidates who sniff the climate and pontificate based on if the wind is blowing toward Mecca or the Wailing Wall.

With the exception of Jimmy Carter who caused more chaos in Iran during his brief administration and who unfortunately goes down in history as the organizer of the handshake between Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat—that ended in one dead President, and one disgraced Prime Minister—that brought an Israel/Egyptian peace, no candidate for President of the United States has ever moved into the White House under a pro-Palestinian banner. And that includes all the 20th and 21st century presidents who might have disliked Jews and Israeli policies but knew that not supporting the security of the State of Israel, or even hinting at the possibility that the Palestinians should not continue to live under occupation, were two guaranteed losing popular propositions.

Even President Obama has been clever enough not to bring up the issue of an Israeli/Palestinian peace accord. And, for that matter, perhaps he is even near genius to stay away from the Syrian bloodbath or in what was so optimistically referred to as “Arab Spring” that ended with our “close friend,” Hosni Mubarak, having been tried, convicted, and sentenced to death, or Moammar Ghadaffi, a new friend, being dragged through the streets and ultimately shot to death by a group of thugs on international television.

I know, I know, everyone in the world, at least everyone who is sane wants peace and democracy. Face it, we’ve come a long way but somehow never progressed from those old Westerns where the good guys wore white hats and the bad guys wore black hats. Nor have we been adverse to putting a white hat on a bad guy who saw the light and found God, or putting a black hat on a former good guy who somehow irked his people and ended up on the losing side of an uprising.

We just go with the flow and men like Mitt Romney continue to fool us suckers into believing they are for peace. What guys like Mitt don’t tell us is that  peace without compromise is an unattainable black or white issue. But then again, in the Arab world, peace with compromise also ends in a dead-end process, albeit with a few “open” doors. Tricky, isn’t it?

I, for one, would like all American candidates and/or politicians to look us in the eye and explain that keeping the pre-requisite scales as they are and the crucial issues in place in order to win elections means we can cozy up to the oil-rich nations, notwithstanding savage behavior and an absence of human rights, defend Israel while still harboring deep religion-based anti-Semitism, form alliances with “good” Arabs against “bad” Arabs as long as we keep our friend, Israel, out of the fray, fight wars in faraway places instead of focusing on feeding, educating, clothing, and housing that good old 90% in the U.S.A.

If candidates and/or politicians are willing to step up and be honest, I would imagine that they would also pay homage to P.T. Barnum and finish every press conference or speech with his famous words, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”